The importance of off-line networking, Creativelive tour + eight business classes you need to take right now

The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade LifeDays when I’m knee deep in spreadsheets and I never think I’m going to make a dent in my overflowing inbox, I look up at the print I have hanging in my studio that says, “Love what you do. Do what you love” and I cringe. I don’t love spreadsheets or drowning in email so why am I wading through piles of paperwork? Because… No matter what you do for a living there are probably going to be some things about your job that you don’t love doing, even if you’re a creative entrepreneur.

Pretty much everyone I know has aspects of their job or business that make them question what they do. The trick is to look at the overall picture of all the work you do you and ask yourself, “Do I like what I’m doing for a living?” If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. If you do, chances are that you’ve accepted the fact that every aspect of your business isn’t going to make you feel like climbing a mountain and shouting “I LOVE MY JOB” while unicorns fly out your butt and set sail on rainbow jet stream.

Today I had one of those moments where I REALLY loved my job. One of those moments when I lost track of the fact that technically I was working and felt really happy and grateful. Many of us who run independent craft businesses work alone. It can get pretty lonely answering emails, keeping our online presence up to date, packaging orders, assessing, planning and making stuff happen. Sometimes it seems like you’re the only one who understands the difficulties and triumphs of being a creative business owner. Then you go to craft show and meet another maker who totally ‘gets it’ or you attend a conference like Craftcation and sit in a room full of people who are all just as excited as you are about learning and making and meeting or you set aside some time to have lunch with some fellow creatives and end up truly letting go and laughing and bonding. That’s what happened to me the day I went to CreativeLive. Creativelive is an awesome place for online learning that offers free classes broadcast live and taught by experts. If you miss the class when it’s broadcast live you can buy it and watch it anytime.

Tons of our creative friends and Craftcation presenters have taught CreativeLive workshops. You can check out their Craft + Maker classes here.

I finally made time in my schedule to accept Christina Loff (the CreativeLive Channel Marketing Lead) and Elizabeth Madariaga’s (Executive Producer of the CreativeLive Maker & Craft Channel) gracious invitation for lunch and a tour of the a CreativeLive studios. I am SO glad I did! I’d met these two awesome ladies at Craftcation before but we hadn’t had time to really hang out and connect.

Christina took me on a tour of their offices in San Francisco, which featured breakout rooms with chalk artwork and original sketches washi taped to the wall that felt welcoming and warm. I’ve haven’t worked in office building since a brief college internship at a music magazine but in my mind, offices always feel stifling and cold. The CreativeLive office felt like a hive buzzing with awesomeness. Christina took us to the roof where we stood for a moment and took in an overwhelmingly lovely (though slightly foggy) panoramic view of the city. Then Christina proudly showed us a paper flower frame that Craftcation presenter Robert Mahar had created for his Paper Crafting class. Christina’s pride in the artful intent of what she does was evident in every aspect of the tour.

Then we ran into Craftcation presenter Lauren Venell who was on a break from recording her Bookkeeping for Creatives and Bookkeeping for Etsy Sellers Classes. We had a quick chat about how important it is for creative entrepreneurs to understand the financial side of their business and then Christina, Elizabeth, a friend I’d brought along for the ride (who is a television writer and whose knowledge of the craft world starts and ends with summer camp lanyards) and I sat down for lunch.

When most people think about a business lunch they don’t think about laughter, sharing personal stories and revealing truths about the importance of standing up for what you believe in but that’s exactly what happened during our lunch. As the conversation flowed from me telling them that my Ex was an extra in the 1980s classic movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun to us going over what makes a good creative conference to Christina talking about her days a slam poet to Elizabeth telling us about ‘doing time’ as a Hollywood producer to my friend poking a napkin with her fork and asking, “is this what needle felting is?” time slipped away and before we knew it, we were the only ones left in the lunch room.

When lunch was finally (sadly) over Christina and Elizabeth walked us out and we realized that we hadn’t spent any time talking about business stuff. We quickly went over a few things realizing that finalizing details of a contract could happen over email but bonding over funny stories is best saved for face to face sessions especially if there’s food, cocktails or a drawer filled with candy involved. That’s right, CreativeLive’s kitchen features an entire drawer filled with candy!

So often I find myself alone in my studio hammering away at a spreadsheet and feeling disconnected with the creative business community. It was so inspiring to get out and forge off-line relationships with my peers that I’d been connecting with on-line.

Every moment of making your creative business happen may not be filled with loving what you do and doing what you love but we all have to hang on to those precious moments when the unicorns start prancing and rainbows appear.

-Nicole S.

Here are our top picks for creative business classes on CreativeLive to jump start your new year and make 2015 your best year yet for your business:

Build a Successful Creative Blog with April Bowles-Olin

Sell Your Products to Retailers with Megan Auman

The Art of Selling What You Make with Tara Gentile

Start a Handmade Business with Kari Chapin

Marketing for Crafters: Building Your Customer Path with Tara Swiger

Bookkeeping for Crafters with Lauren Venell

Create Your Dream Career with Michelle Ward

The Right-Brain Business Plan with Jennifer Lee

You can also check out all of their Craft + Maker classes here.

Want to take one of these classes for FREE? Good, because we’re giving away the CreativeLive class of your choice to one lucky winner. To enter:

Leave a comment below by Wednesday February 11th letting us know a CreativeLive class you’d love to take or a time when you saw the benefits of networking off-line.

Be sure to leave your email address in your profile so we can get your address and send you some tape!

The Contest is now closed! Congrats Robin G!

Here are some photos from our CreativeLive studio tour.

The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade LifeThe CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade LifeThe CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life The CreativeLive studios via Dear Handmade Life


  1. I would love to take build a successesful creative blog class by April! I’m looking forward to offline Networking at craftcation!

  2. I attended a business course for out company, to get a few updates on taxing. All of us attendees decided to share our details. I thought nothing of it at the time, just another networking opportunity, but it led to the daughter of on of the people booking a wedding with us. It was fantastic!

    We also got an opportunity from a sporting event we shot. We were all over the event, getting loads of photos, and handing out cards. The couple loved our style so much they booked their wedding with us!

    Never know what a single card can lead to.

  3. Tough choice! I think I would pick April because she is my favorite CL teacher. 🙂 I own Kari’s course and I would highly recommend it.
    I received my first orders from off-line networking, so it’s super important for me, although I’m an extreme introvert. I’d love to attend some kind of crafty conference, but nothing like that exists in my country, at least not to my knowledge.

  4. Would love to take Build a Successful Creative Blog with April Bowles-Olin! It’s currently on my wishlist.

  5. Creative Live does such amazing work – listening to founder Chase Jarvis talk about it shows how passionate him and his team are! I’d like to take Kelly Starrett’s Maintaining Your Body course. When him and Chase did the “Physical Fitness for Creatives” segment I was so impressed with how engaging and enthusiastic they both are!
    I got to be in the audience for Nomadic Matt’s “Stress-Free Budget Travel” course at Creative Live SF and the staff are so great, what a fun course to participate in, highly recommend that one to others too!

  6. I JUST watched the last few minutes of Kim Werker’s presentation yesterday and it was my first experience with CreativeLive and now I’m hooked! If I had to pick only one, I’d probably pick Creating your Dream Career. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that would be! I hope I’m not too late to enter your giveaway!

  7. I caught some of April’s Build a Successful Creative Blog class when it rebroadcast and was hooked! I’d love the see the whole class – it’s exactly what I need. 🙂

  8. Build a Successful Creative Blog, Create Your Dream Career or The Right Brain Business Plan all look great to me. I can use all the help I can get with the business and marketing end of things!

  9. I would LOVE to have Conquering Crappy Light or Photoshop Blend Modes will Change Your Life. Both by the best teacher Lindsay Adler of course.

  10. I am in love with CreativeLive. I own almost every one of those courses! I still need Megan Auman’s course in my library though, so that’s the one i’d like to win.

  11. I just wanted to pop by and say this post was so fun to read❗️I just got back from being in the CreativeLive audience for Katie Hunt’s 4 classes and felt really fortunate to be a part of this great on-line {free} resource… I always true to spread the CreativeLive love to others❗️❗️

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